SOLDIER BOYS by Dean Hughes


Age Range: 10 - 14
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World War II has begun and, against his parents’ wishes, Spencer Morgan enlists and finds himself at Fort Benning, Georgia, training to be a paratrooper. Standing between him and the glory in battle he envisions are two big towers, 250 feet high, which “stood over the place like a couple of hangman’s gallows.” Spence will have to jump from one of the towers as his ticket out of training and into combat. In alternating scenes, Dieter Hedrick rises through the Hitler Youth, helps dig the anti-tank trenches of the Siegfried Line after D-Day, and with little training becomes a member of the Fifteenth Army. The stories converge at the Battle of the Bulge, and the two boys actually meet. In prose more akin to the grunts of the infantry than the flights of the Airborne, Hughes’s story never quite gets off the ground. This may be too big of a story to keep short, and the author writes summarily rather than developing lively scenes with action and dialogue. When Hughes lets dialogue carry a scene or in the poignant letter the Morgans receive from Spence’s sergeant, the story has some power, as does the satisfying conclusion. Readers will wish there were more here than isolated bits of good storytelling. Still, there is enough here to sustain the interest of young readers interested in WWII. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-81748-7
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001


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